By Alexandra Stark
If there is one thing about fishing that is for sure, it’s that not everything will always go your way—even if you are the best captain, crewman or angler in the world. But what if the thing that goes south on you happens on the biggest of stages, with millions of dollars on the line? What do you do if you are the guy who missed the gaff shot on a world record blue? How about if you’re the guy that San Cocho’s the biggest white marlin you’ve ever seen in the White Marlin Open?
What should you do when you see the winning team later that night at the awards dinner, making toasts, getting up on stage to collect their monster-sized check and you think, “Fuuuuuuuu***** – how could I let that happen?!” How do you deal with the embarrassment, the letdown and the frustration for you and your team…and the owner? How can you redeem yourself after a tournament loss? The initial shock may be overwhelming, but I promise, it’s not so bad after you break it down.
1. Feel the pain! – Let yourself be angry, sad, pissed off, whatever you need to feel. Allow yourself to get there. Try not to just brush it off and say, “Oh well. I’m fine.” In order to get past the feeling of despair, it is imperative that you allow yourself time to feel whatever it is you need to feel.
2. Use the loss as an opportunity for learning and growth – After you are done beating yourself up, take a moment to recognize the opportunity for learning. Do you have boat footage from the tournament? Can you review stats from other boats? What did the winner do that you did not? This is a tried and true strategy that has been used in professional sports for years—use the wins and losses of others to improve your game and get ready for the next competition.
3. Don’t be a sore loser – Make sure to congratulate the winners and offer support. They are probably your friend or someone you will run into at another event—you don’t want to be known as a jerk. Besides, you would want the same treatment if the roles were reversed.
4. Work on your technical skills – Was there something about this specific episode that was different for you? Was it a different species, location, type of tackle or boat? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, there may be some room to improve a particular technical skill to help you moving forward.
5. Adapt to your new perspective – This is where the acceptance kicks in. Accept the loss, grieve through the process and move toward the next goal. Allow your thoughts to recognize that the loss is in the past, but to not allow it to define your future. The process of recovering from something going sideways is different for everyone. It can be fast or slow and can resonate differently depending on the person. We all know that person who still talks about “the one that got away” from that tournament in 1983. Nobody wants to be that guy—and no matter how bad it seems, you don’t have to be.